Understanding Types of Kidnapping Charges in Pennsylvania

Kidnapping Charges

Kidnapping is a very serious offense and can lead to felony charges punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Under Pennsylvania law, kidnapping is defined as knowingly taking and moving another person from one place to another against their will and without their consent.

As you may have guessed, this kind of wording leaves plenty of room for interpretation, which is why many people are falsely accused of this offense and can be wrongfully convicted of kidnapping.

“Interestingly the amount of distance that another individual must be moved for it to lead to kidnapping charges is extremely small, as little as moving a person from the outside of a car to the inside.” – SMT Criminal Defense Attorney

There are several types of kidnapping charges, all of which carry their own penalties and punishment.

Simple Kidnapping

If the defendant used force or fear to move the victim from one place to another without their consent, the defendant will most likely be charged with a felony, punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of up to 20 years.

Aggravated Kidnapping

If the defendant kidnapped the victim and made a ransom demand or inflicted serious bodily injury or death, he or she will most likely be charged with a felony offense of aggravated kidnapping. You may also be charged with aggravated kidnapping if your case involved extortion, robbery, carjacking, and certain sex crimes. In many cases, defendants charged with aggravated kidnapping are facing a life sentence.

False Imprisonment

If you restrained, detained, or confined another person against their will, you may be charged with false imprisonment, which carries less severe penalties. Those who are being accused of simple or aggravated kidnapping are often able to plead down to false imprisonment to avoid facing serious penalties.

Child Abduction

You do not necessarily have to move the victim a substantial distance to be charged with this type of kidnapping. In fact, you can be charged with child abduction for deliberately keeping the child from someone who has custody rights.

Defenses to Kidnapping Charges

Defending yourself in a kidnapping case can feel like walking through a minefield. There are only a few legal defenses that may be able to help you fight back. More often than not, seeking legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best viable option. Potential defenses to kidnapping include:

The Victim Gave Consent

If you moved another person not against their will and the alleged victim actually gave their consent, you cannot be charged with kidnapping. As you may have guessed, proving that this was done not against the alleged victim’s will can be tricky.

An Honest Mistake

This one is usually applicable in child abduction cases, where one of the parents does not fully understand how the custody arrangement works. You can avoid being charged with the kidnapping crime if you can prove that you did not willfully withhold or kidnap your child.

Coerced or Under Threat of Violence or Blackmail

Oftentimes, defendants can effectively defend themselves in kidnapping cases when they can prove that they were under duress or coercion to engage in this type of criminal activity.

Defend Your Rights Following a Kidnapping Charge

Kidnapping is considered to be one of the most serious crimes, with severe penalties if convicted. If you are facing kidnapping charges, contact our Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys to find out how we can help with your case. Our attorneys have decades of experience dealing with kidnapping and child abduction cases. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and fighting for the best possible outcome in your case. SMT’s criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations. Contact us today.

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